Preoperative Bone Marrow Edema Negatively Impacts 10-Year Outcomes After Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty

Published:October 17, 2022DOI:



      The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between the extent of subchondral bone marrow edema (BME), as classified by magnetic resonance imaging, and intermediate to long-term outcomes after unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) for medial compartment osteoarthritis.


      We enrolled 150 knees (144 patients) that underwent fixed-bearing UKA between April 2003 and December 2014 with a minimum follow-up of 5 years; the mean overall follow-up duration was 10 years (range, 5-18 years). We divided the patients into 2 groups based on the presence or absence of preoperative BME. Patients were also subdivided into 4 groups according to their BME scores determined by the magnetic resonance imaging Osteoarthritis Knee Score method. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and the Forgotten Joint Score. Furthermore, survival rates and relevant risk factors that affect joint survivorship were analyzed.


      The groups with BME demonstrated significantly worse postoperative WOMAC pain and Forgotten Joint Scores at the final follow-up than the group without BME (all P < .05). We also found significant differences among the scores of groups with different BME grades (all P < .05). Post hoc analysis demonstrated differences between groups 1 and 2, 1 and 3, 1 and 4, and 2 and 4 (all P < .05) with a significant correlation between postoperative clinical outcomes and the extent of BME (r = 0.430 [WOMAC pain], r = −0.342 [Forgotten Joint Score]; P < .05). The survival rate was 95.4% for a mean period of 10 years for the UKAs, and the UKA survival was not associated with the presence of BME (P = .232; log-rank test).


      At a mean of 10 years, preoperative BME negatively impacted the clinical outcomes, especially pain, after UKA. However, UKA contributed to excellent survival rates for the same duration of follow-up, regardless of BME severity. Although this study does not provide any evidence that preoperative BME should be identified as a contraindication, evaluation of BME can provide crucial information about the expected outcomes.


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